Published: 14th November 2017
Odisha teen Sumitra Nayak is training girls in school to play RUGBY. Boy, are they killing it on the field or what!
Sumitra trains her juniors in Rugby and is planning a school, where education and sport go hand in hand
At 17 years of age, Sumitra Nayak who hails from a small village in Odisha has overcome a lifetime's worth of challenges. By escaping from an abusive marriage for the safety of her children, Sumitra's mother taught her her very first lesson: to never give up.
It was this sense of determination that piqued her interest when she set her eyes on a 'weird egg-shaped ball' at a rugby camp in her alma mater, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), where she was offered free education and housing. From then, there was no stopping Sumitra. "I loved how rugby combined strength and showmanship," she says with barely contained passion.
"Girls never play sports in my village but I found it easy because I had an amazing coach who supported me throughout." In 2014, Sumitra led her team to victory at the Touraid Under 13 Girls International Rugby Tournament in London. Before she could even process her newfound success, Sumitra has stepped forward into her new mission: training other girls like her. "Most girls I know receive no support from their families and there is no one to train or hone our skills in schools. Because I got the opportunity myself, I want to train juniors at KISS and in my village by setting up a model of it in my village."